Clearly there is a genuine spiritual risk for the younger generation growing up in this current crusade of make-believe and skepticism towards transcendent morality. It’s one thing for adults to deal with these assaults upon truth, but young children are not intellectually and emotionally developed enough to make a clear distinction between what is real and what is imaginary. Some people who are involved in early education have found this to be true in their professional experience.
Should we really be shocked about the declining health and welfare of many children influenced by America’s cultural preoccupation with all things make-believe? After all, why wouldn’t our little ones be in turmoil when the educational agenda of our time isn’t about the three Rs, but rather about teaching our youngsters to reject their God-given identity and live as some sort of magical being empowered by the incantation of their preferred pronouns and the medical wizardry of gender reassignment?
The truth is, if we allow children to be constantly exposed to academic malpractice, fantasy narratives, virtual-reality gaming and cosplay cultism, then we should not be surprised when they prefer to live their life predominately outside of reality and God’s truth.
These days, our poor kids have little hope of avoiding the insidious mindworms of our society’s fantasies and mad delusions. Just look at the present cultural landscape: the satanic pagan imagery of popular music performers, the woke indoctrination of Disney entertainment, and even the baffling sight of drag queen RuPaul on a box of Cheezits at the local grocery store. This widespread propaganda, produced by unprincipled adults who want to promote overt rebellion against parents and God, is a major reason why we are seeing a rise in the psychological distress and spiritual confusion of innocent children.
New studies on children’s wellness, in fact, are showing the incredible damage taking place. Recent data shows reading and math proficiency among our public school students are at 20 year lows, especially in Illinois where dozens of schools statewide had zero grade-level proficiency. And in case you were wondering, some of the numbers were only “slightly better” in pre-pandemic 2019.
Schools have also failed to protect our children from the fallout of America’s increasing social turmoil and anger. Despite massive educational campaigns to stop it, bullying is on the rise with 90% of students in grades 4-8 becoming victims of harassment that often includes cyber-bullying and physical assault. The NEA, in fact, reports that over 160,000 kids refuse to go to school each day for fear of being bullied.
Likewise, self-harm is a huge issue. Suicide rates have increased among U.S. adolescents and young adults (age 10-24) and now account for 14% of all suicides, which is indicative of the overall rise of cases over the last decade. According to the latest study by the CDC, nearly three in five teenage girls in America felt persistent sadness in 2021, double the rate of boys, and one in three girls considered attempting suicide. The findings also showed high levels of violence, depression and suicidal thoughts among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth.
The Spiritual Risk of a Child Reared on Fantasy
Clearly there is a genuine spiritual risk for the younger generation growing up in this current crusade of make-believe and skepticism towards transcendent morality. It’s one thing for adults to deal with these assaults upon truth, but young children are not intellectually and emotionally developed enough to make a clear distinction between what is real and what is imaginary. Some people who are involved in early education have found this to be true in their professional experience:
“A child who spends too much time in a world of fantasy may find it difficult to relate to others, to interact in a group, to be in the here and now. It can also be scary for a child… When a child under 5 or 6 hears a fairy tale with a wicked witch, they then also imagine this witch to be real as a child of this age has a very concrete understanding of the world. They visualize it as if it is real as they are not yet able to clearly separate fantasy from reality.” — Pretend Play: A Complicated Question
Sadly, this childhood interaction between fact and fantasy can be even more complicated when you, as a Christian parent, begin to introduce your child to the real person of Jesus Christ. This should be an exciting and joyful truth to share with your little one as you begin the process of rearing your child under the instruction of God’s word, but it can oftentimes be a difficult education if Jesus has to compete with Santa Claus, Marvel superheroes, or Harry Potter as the object of your child’s fledgling hero-worship.
Recent research has proven this childhood confusion with fantasy to be a real issue. Case in point, a 2014 research study at Boston University where it was discovered that young children with a religious background were less able to distinguish between fantasy and reality compared with their secular counterparts:
In two studies, 66 kindergarten-age children were presented with three types of stories: realistic, religious and fantastical. The researchers then queried the children on whether they thought the main character in the story was real or fictional.
While nearly all children found the figures in the realistic narratives to be real, secular and religious children were split on religious stories. Children with a religious upbringing tended to view the protagonists in religious stories as real, whereas children from non-religious households saw them as fictional.
Although this might be unsurprising, secular and religious children also differed in their interpretation of fantasy narratives where there was a supernatural or magical storyline.
“Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional,” wrote the researchers. “The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.” — BBC News, Study: Religious Children Are Less Able To Distinguish Fantasy From Reality
The researchers concluded (as most college researchers are prone to do) that exposure to a religious education is probably the main culprit in a child’s difficulty in identifying fact from fiction. This conclusion, however, seems to indicate an anti-biblical bias that completely ignores the alternative possibility. Why is religious upbringing the problem? Isn’t it just as plausible that fictional stories involving magic are the real cause of confusion, especially when these tales of superheroes, witches and wizards are the ones mimicking God’s supernatural power in the Bible?
In light of Scripture, this alternative conclusion is clearly confirmed. For starters, God is not a God of confusion. God’s word will not return void, but will accomplish what He pleases and will prosper in that thing for which He sent it. Over and over again, the Bible confirms that scriptural instruction from the word of God is essential to a child’s proper upbringing.